People are living longer than ever before, and modern healthcare is partly to thank for it. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows life expectancy has increased over the past century from 50 to 80 years for women, and from 48 to 75 years for men.[1]

One of the unintended consequences of longer lifespans is that teeth are exposed to many more years of damaging dental habits such as clenching and grinding. If you have loose, fractured, or broken teeth, visiting an endodontist might be a good move.

Reasons for Clenching and Grinding Teeth

Many people clench and grind their teeth during sleep. Stress and anxiety are the most common reasons for these behaviors, but neck issues, and sleep problems like snoring and sleep apnea can also cause you to develop the conditions. It’s a common problem that affects around 10% of the U.S. population, according to the American Sleep Association. Certain medications, such as antidepressants containing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can also result in dental issues.

Teeth grinding is known as bruxism, and it doesn’t only occur while you’re asleep. Awake bruxism can be caused by strong emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, or tension. It can also be a strategy for coping with stress or a habit that develops when you’re concentrating.

Smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine, and taking recreational drugs can also be responsible for causing these problems.

Results of These Behaviors

Often, these actions cause you to wake up with an aching head or jaw, but the results can be more serious. Disrupting your or your sleeping partner’s rest can create numerous other health problems. Your teeth can become worn down, fractured, chipped, or loose in the sockets.

You may develop pain or sensitivity in your gum or jaw area, or sores in your mouth from catching sections of your inner cheek between your teeth. The long-term effects of teeth clenching or grinding include chronic headaches, tooth loss, and other dental problems.

What an Endodontist Can Do

If you schedule an appointment with our endodontists early enough, it may be possible to address any dental problems before they lead to complete tooth loss. The endodontists may suggest you try a bite guard- basic versions are available at your  local pharmacy. The guard acts like a cushion between your upper and lower teeth and may be all you need to stop the further breakdown of your teeth. If a damaged tooth is caught before the crack, split, or fracture extends beyond the pulp, it may be treatable with a crown, or a root canal aAND a crown to prevent the crack from spreading. However, once the damage extends below the gum line, it is no longer treatable. In this case, the tooth can’t be saved and will need to be extracted.

How to Prevent These Problems

An early visit to an endodontist can help you address clenching and grinding problems before they become untreatable. Some of the ways you can stop or minimize the issues include:

  • Wearing a mouth guard at night, which can absorb the force of your biting and help minimize damage.
  • Behavioral changes, such as learning to rest your tongue, teeth, and lips in a way that can help relieve discomfort and reduce the impulse to grind your teeth.
  • Bite adjustment, which can help reduce the chance of grinding.
  • Taking medication that can help alleviate pain and reduce the stress that causes grinding.
  • Stress reduction methods such as exercise or meditation, or psychological treatment to help manage your tension.

Don’t wait until your teeth clenching and grinding lead to fractured, worn teeth and other health problems that can develop.

Contact Professional Endodontics today for more information on our root canal treatments, or to schedule an appointment with our qualified, compassionate team.

[1] https://www.prb.org/resources/americans-are-living-longer-than-ever/